Sure, most western movie lovers have seen the likes of genre classics such as “High Plains Drifter,” “The Searchers” and “The Magnificent Seven,” but what about those less popular, yet weirdly curious ones? They may just deserve some attention too – or not – we’ll let you be the judge. Here are a few cult classics to get you started on the western road less traveled.
Start with 7
- “Johnny Guitar” (1954) stars Joan Crawford as Vienna, a tough saloon owner frequented by shady characters, one of which is a former lover named Johnny Guitar. When a heist happens in town that results in the death of a fierce rival of Vienna’s, the towns people vow to take revenge on her and the saloon without actual proof of wrongdoing.
- If dinosaurs are your jam, this fantasy western is for you. In “The Valley of Gwangi” (1969) members of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show stumble on the Forbidden Valley in Mexico, where they discover living dinosaurs and have to figure out their next move.
- “Dead Birds” (2004) is part western, part horror flick. It’s set during the Civil War and tells the story of a group of Confederate Army deserters who turned into bank robbers as a means of survival. Some supernatural forces are at play here too.
- “Coogan’s Bluff” (1968) stars Clint Eastwood who plays an Arizona Deputy Sheriff (Coogan) who is sent to New York City to escort an escaped fugitive back for trial. It’s an American crime thriller with a weird western twist.
- A mysterious black-clad gunfighter wanders a mystical Western landscape in this avant-garde cult classic – “El Topo” (1970). During his wanderings, he comes across a variety of bizarre and unusual characters.
- “Companeros” (1970), a Zapata western buddy comedy film, brims with madcap misadventure. A Swedish arms dealer and a Mexican peon team up to rescue the intellectual leader of the Revolutionary cause, while taking part in many zany mishaps along the way.
- Several years after leaving his Arizona family, Ace Bonner, a wild young man played by Steve McQueen, returns to his roots in “Junior Bonner” (1972). During a rodeo championship, this now middle-aged bronco decides to compete and an explosive family drama erupts.
So, get a batch of popcorn, grab the remote and saddle up! And, we’d love to know if you decide to take a step back in time with one (or seven) of these weirdly wonderful westerns.